Business HR

4 traits you might notice in a “zombie” employee

They lurk in the pantry with their heads drooped low. The aimless ruffle of papers and eerie sounds of dragging feet echo throughout the corridor as they slide between departments. These are the working dead and they can infect an entire office with unproductivity…
How can you identify the dead from the living before it’s too late? If you don’t spot this zombie breakout early enough, things could escalate, leading to missed deadlines and a widespread lack of motivation throughout the organisation (and even the industry)!
Here are some tell-tale signs that your employee (or employees) may be infected.

They aren’t nice to customers
Zombies come to work in bad moods, a dark air seems to hang over practically every space they occupy. Trying to understand the zombies may lead us to some surprisingly human traits. Financial stress, trouble at home and other personal issues are all things that could be causing their unsavoury disposition. Regardless, customer service can be significantly affected in a negative way by ‘frontline’ zombies who aren’t bothered to put up with calls in the morning. If the deathly wails of customers follow suit, be warned! You may have a problem.

They are disengaged
Employees that stare up at the screen with droopy eyes during meetings or sit lifelessly with their heads on their desks, are either suffering from insomnia or have turned into disengaged zombies. If you have employees that aren’t engaged, expect missed deadlines and excuses as to why work wasn’t done satisfactorily. They’re probably also going to try and find ways to get out of completing assigned tasks.

They simply aren’t there
It can be pretty creepy to walk around the office and find an empty desk that was occupied just the day before, or (even worse), an entire department with nobody around. Workplace zombies take more sick days, and they aren’t afraid to remain absent for as long as there are no repercussions.

They’re trying to infect others
This can be their biggest risk. The most lethal workplace zombies tend to try and infect others. Gossiping, taking part in office politics and general badmouthing of the company and its leadership are all common traits of infectious and toxic zombies. They search for opportunities and jobs outside of the one they currently have and they don’t have a problem inviting others to do the same.

Plot Twist: It’s not entirely their fault!
Here’s where it gets interesting. For the most part, if you’re experiencing a massive zombie outbreak at the employee level, it may actually be an infection that leads all the way to the top! The organisation’s leadership should actually be responsible for a zombie-free workplace and if the problem persists, the problem may actually be at the management level.
Just look at workplaces such as Uber that have been alleged to have toxic company cultures.
Employees need to be taken care of in other ways besides just monthly remuneration. Money can’t buy everything, especially when it comes to keeping engagement levels in the workplace high and keeping employees motivated.
Human resource management solutions can be your secret weapon and help you exterminate zombies before they infect others in your organisation. Gamification systems that utilise rewards and recognition could be a key way to increase employee productivity and competitiveness.

HR solutions and systems can be used in combination with other initiatives such as financial wellness programs. A report by Ernst & Young revealed that more than 40% of employees engaged with financial wellness programs are likely to remain productive in the office.
The good news is that these efforts can help put zombie employees back on track. Help them and work with them. Understand their problems. Assist them with overcoming financial stress on a personal level and try to alleviate any financial burdens they may have. These and other simple steps can help make work more conducive to zombie employees, as well as the ‘uninfected’ employees in the workplace.
Try and establish some kind of a balance in how employees are assigned tasks and evaluated on performance. Engagement can be closely related to being challenged (in good ways) while being motivated to excel in as many ways as possible.

At TraitQuest, we aim to bridge the gap between employee and employer relationship by providing a robust talent management, employee engagement and talent retention system. As strong believers in growth and progress, our continuous efforts leverage on data-driven decision making, derived traits profiling, workplace gamification via a well-rounded multi-level engagement platform which ensures organisation to achieve top level productivity. To sum up our value proposition – we provide enterprise cloud-based solutions for workflow management and collaboration to drive employees’ motivation and engagement, cultivate a healthy corporate culture thereby retaining your valued employees. We are one of the recipients of HR Vendor of the Year 2018 for Best HR Start Up Company in Malaysia.

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